Lagusnilad underpass gets new look, sees return of 'Books from Underground'

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Lagusnilad underpass gets new look, sees return of 'Books from Underground'
This composite photos show the previous and current look of Lagusnilad Underpass in Manila.
Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila / Released

MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Manila on Monday morning inaugurated the newly rehabilitated Lagusnilad pedestrian underpass, which is also called the Manila City Hall underpass.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna led the inauguration of the underpass with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The modernized underpass, designed by University of Santo Tomas (UST) alumni — architect Juanito Malaga and UST graduates John Fallorina, Sean Ortiz and Leon Tuazon — in collaboration with the city's Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW), features a 25 x 2.8-meter mural that showcases the culture and history of the city as well as serving as a tribute to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Manila Public Information Office said that “the mural and the bas-relief artwork was created in collaboration with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and NCCA Gerilya artists inspired from the works of famed artist Botong Francisco.”

The signs were also written in Baybayin, a pre-Spanish script used in Luzon and other parts of the Philippines before it was replaced by the Latin or Roman alphabet.

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The Manila PIO said that key issues such as flooding, vagrants and security issues have been addressed by key agencies such as the Department of Public Works and Highways-National Capital Region, Manila City Security Office and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila.

The underpass will now have 24/7 security, composed of designated security personnel and CCTV cameras connected to the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office command center.

The rehabilitation project started in November 2019. It was temporarily halted during the enhanced community quarantine but work resumed in late May.

Manila Public Information chief Julius Leonen said the city did not shell out funds for this project.

“Wala pong gastos ang Manila City government sa rehabilitation ng Lagusnilad underpass P5 million budget used ay galling po sa mga donations from private companies katulad ng Boysen at ng National Commission for Culture and the Arts. As for the murals, donated rin po ito ng mga artists themselves,” Leonen told the reporters.

Mural artists include Marianne Rios, Jano Gonzales and Ianna Engano while the signages were designed by Raven Angel Rivota from the Far Eastern University, Edrian Garcia and John Leyson.

'Books from Underground' returns

Last week, Moreno also announced that the “Books from Underground,” the well-loved thrift bookstore previously housed in the tunnel, will make a return.

This bookshop owned by AJ Laberinto was removed in July 2019 after the clearing operations that removed illegal vendors in the tunnel.

Moreno in August last year said the bookstore may return as a “legitimate businesss.”

Laberinto, who now secured a business permit, said he is looking forward to operate in the rennovated underpass. 

“Sayang nga lang walang pasok siguro matutuwa at maninibago ang mga estudyante na muling madadaan dito,” he was quoted by DTCAM as saying.

Aside from the pedestrian underpass, Moreno in October last year also showed posted photos of the repainting and cleaning of the Lagusnilad vehicular underpass, said to be the first vehicular underpass in the country and Asia.

The redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass is part of the Lawton development master plan which already commenced construction. It includes Arroceros up until the Lagusnilad underpass.

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